Monday, October 17, 2011

Yellowstone - Always a favorite

The kids had a few days off from school and we hadn't been to Yellowstone yet this year so we had to squeeze it in before the season ended. I did manage to convince Greg not to camp. Twenty degree nights with a baby in a tent never sounds very fun.

We had a great time in our small little room with two beds, a sink, and the shared bathroom down the hall (at least they provided robes). Our kids are getting good at sleeping three kids the short way on the bed, and thankfully, Andrew always volunteers to sleep on the floor. But Natali is getting too tall and one of these days someone is going to call us out for having 7 people in one room. Actually, the room was a lot of fun and we weren't there much because we spent most of our time in the van looking for animals.

Our goal this time was to see wolfs. We did see wolfs through the scopes of kind "wolf watchers" but that just isn't the same for me. Someday we'll really see some. We did see several bears though. I loved watching this mother and cubs swim across the river.
This golden eagle was beautiful. We were even close enough that Emily was reacting to the animal. I loved her excitement. One of her favorite books right now is about a snow leopard (thanks Laura). She gets so animated when she sees pictures of animals - A little Andrew in the making. Speaking of Andrew, this little man hiked nearly 9 miles in one day! He is determined to enjoy every minute in Yellowstone. He and Greg did 5 miles together in on and off snow/rain showers. Meanwhile Natali and Mack earned their Jr. Ranger badges, we toured the visitor center, and hung out in the hotel room.We also took lots of little hikes together and one BIG one. It didn't start out big but I think Greg was secretly hoping it would end big. There was a 4 mile loop. The intention was to just start up the path and then turn around when they were tired. Amazingly, in spite of the 35-40 degree weather, they did really good. By the time they were asking to turn around we figured we were half way so we should just keep going. Kate got a few piggie backs and Natali needed a few pep talks, but they all made it.It was a beautiful hike right along a canyon. Emily didn't complain about her free ride and slept a fair portion of the hike. The last few of the river was so beautiful with the contrasting colors of blue, green, brown, and white. This picture doesn't really capture it. Here are the amazing hikers waiting for Greg to bring the car around. The last 1/2 mile of the loop was down the main road so Greg ran on ahead of us and we only had to wait about 5 minutes before he arrived with the warm van.
Per Natali's request, we did stop to see Old Faithful. However, near the time it was going to erupt it started to snow. Not just a little snow but so much snow that when it did erupt we couldn't even tell it had started. So glad we weren't camping.
On the way home we stopped at Wendy's. Greg bought one frosty to share. The kids were all holding their mouths open and squawking for their turn, especially Emily. It was so funny. I tried to capture it but failed to catch the moment.
Year after year I wait for one of the girls to complain about going to Yellowstone. They spend hours and hours in the car, freeze when they get out, whine about hiking...and yet they still seem to love it. They all seem to recognize the beauty and wonder of the animals, landscape, and geothermal oddities. The hours in the car helps create lasting memories. Like the word of the day. Each day we took turns picking a word, like bear. Each time bear was said we had to roar, but the best was Mack's pick of Elk. Instead of screaming or roaring each time it was said we had to say "stop the car". We saw a ton of elk and it was hilarious to hear the kids chanting "Elk! Stop the car." I want my kids to remember those silly times and the beauties of God's creations. I hope they never grow tired of Yellowstone.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Macks 8th Birthday

Mack turned 8! Yet again, Mack designed and decorated his own cake. My dad was there when I handed Mack the tube of frosting and his eyes said, "Are you really going to let him do that?". Without any hesitation on his part, Mack squeezed and did his thing. His total confidence in himself and his final product are typical Mack and make me smile. Wither decorating a cake or dressing himself, Mack doesn't worry about if it will look "right", if everyone else will like it, or if he did it the "right" way. He is just confident and pleased with doing it himself. I love that about him.Presents: remote control cars, scriptures, a Lego boat and game, a stack of $2 bills, hand held battleship, a pack of gum, and a Bey Blade. A happy boy!

Ready to blow...

A weekend before his birthday I told Mack he could pick one friend and we'd go do something fun. He picked Chuck E Cheese, so of course the Wilford's came along. I was having issues with the camera focusing - so you get what you get.

Blue rice crispy treats shaped like footballs, helmets, and the Y! Can you tell Mack likes football?

Fun times watching Emily and Rachel loving the little games, and the big kids trying to see who could get the most tickets. After Chuck's place we used some coupons and went to the Discover Center. The kids had a great time. Happy Birthday Mack!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Creative Play

When the big kids went back to school I had a rough time adjusting to just having the little girls home. The house was much quieter, which was nice, but suddenly the girls needed a lot more attention. Reading a friends blog reminded me that I used to actually play more with the kids; the kids used to get messy with projects. Poor Kate and Emily have missed out on a lot. We do a ton of reading but we don't have much messy time - even though Kate could sure use it. I've been trying to do better and here is one adventure. Painting with food colored cornstarch and water. Emily really loved dripping it all over her legs. Kate on the other hand preferred to keep it on the fingertips of one hand.

This picture makes me sad because I cut Kate's hair the other day and it is so much shorter. I miss her long locks (but not the crying that went with every combing). Can you see where she spelt her name on the cement, with a little help. Sorry the K is cut off. I just love these next two pictures of my baby. They are probably not great photography - but I just love that little face.

Clean up may have been the best part. Who can resist a hose?

Go Cougars

In September we all drove down to Utah to see cousins and for the boys to go to a BYU game. We spent some time on campus and had to buy a few BYU shirts. The boys loved the game and had fabulous weather. Before the game we even ran into the quarterback, Jake Heaps; The boys shook his hand. I guess they weren't good luck because he still had a pretty bad game, but at least the Cougars won.

They spotted Jimmer walking the sidelines.

Greg and his college buddy, Tom, enjoyed the game together while the kids played. Well, Andrew and Tom's girls played. Mack watched every minute of the game. We may not be a great team this year - but we are not fair weather fans. Go Cougars!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Emily's first time painting. She didn't eat any - that I know of.

We got real serious about covering the whole table.

Fun times with my girls.

Whales and Rainforests

Well it has been far too long. I won't attempt to catch up - at least not today. Here are some pictures from our last big trip of the summer. We drove up to the Seattle area to go to the temple, see killer whales, and check out a rainforest.

Here we are on our seven hour boat ride. Miraculously, all of our kids loved it. By the end of the trip everyone on the boat knew Natali by name and had discussed animals with Andrew. That boy loved the boat and wandered around looking at everything. After the first three hours has passed Greg and I started getting worried because we hadn't seen any whales and we knew we would have to turn around soon. The kids would be so devastated if this attempt to find whales failed. So Andrew and I went up on the top of the boat so we could have a better view. Suddenly, we spotted our first of dozens of whales.

It was amazing. Picture and video can't capture it because they were coming up on all sides of the boat. Large males, small groups, babies, it was awe inspiring. I could have watched all day.

My favorite was when you could see them under the water and slowly follow them as they came up for a breath. The whale trip was a big hit. We didn't loose anyone overboard, the kids made friends, and we all had an amazing experience.

Next we were off to Olympic National Park! We took a little hike to see snow and look for mountain goats (no luck). But we did see a bunch of deer and some beautiful scenery.

Then we went to Hoh Rainforest. Wow! It was like a different world with huge trees, strange plants and weird animals.

The kids did pretty well as we hiked around for two plus hours. There were so many interesting things to look at.

This was the biggest slug I have ever seen.

Roosevelt Elk - different from the kind you see in Yellowstone- they seamed out of place in the jungle.

Then we visited the beach. The kids loved it. Andrew and Mack were in up to the waist and happy as could be.

We found this starfish stuck to a dead crab. I was the only one brave enough to hold it.

It had been a long time since the kids had played on a beach. I always love visiting the ocean. There is something so magical about the power of the water. I love the sound of the waves and the feel of the sand. It made me happy to watch my kids explore and enjoy that magic as well.

It took us a while to get everyone sand free before getting back in the van.

On the way home we got a great view of Mount Raineer.

All good things have to come to an end. We had a wonderful summer and this trip was a great way to end it.

School Days - School Days

School has started again! Natali was so excited to get going again. She was ready to move to the other side of the school where the 4th and 5th graders have their classes. 4th grade has been great so far. She loves learning about our state's history, singing in the school choir, and her new teacher Mrs. Morris.

Mack was a little less excited to say good bye to summer, but he was excited to start 2nd grade with Mrs. Kinney. She was his kindergarten teacher and we were so excited that he could have her for second grade as well. He enjoys school but his favorite part is playing football at recess.

Andrew, as usual, was the most reluctant to start school. He originally told he he would not be going at all. I commented about how sad it would be that he would never learn to read all those animal books he pours over. Upon further consideration, he decided he would go to school till he can read, but then he won't ever go again. Luckily, he has loved his 1st grade teacher and goes to school without a fight everyday - a big thank you to Mrs. Parsons.

The big kids started school a week before Kate did and it was so hard for her to wait for her turn to come. She put on new clothes and fixed her hair before I went to help out in Andrew's class. When I came back she had changed her clothes (maybe more than once), taken out her hair, and was sprinkled all over with water, but she was raring to go. Her preschool is literally across the street. It is so convenient and she loves it.